Bowling centers prepare for eventual reopening

Coronavirus

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Along with fitness centers, bowling alleys remain one of the few businesses yet to reopen in Michigan. 

Staff at Spectrum Entertainment Complex in Wyoming says they’re losing money and time. With all the open space available at a bowling center, they argue social distancing wouldn’t be a problem.

Other safety guidelines they argue too would be easily accommodated — namely routinely sanitizing the ball and shoes after each customer uses them.

Spectrum Entertainment Complex and the Bowling Centers Association of Michigan moved forward with legal action against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Monday.

“Every day we get phone calls, every day we get questions on Facebook for wanting to know when bowling is going to reopen again. It breaks my heart every time I have to tell them I don’t know,” Spectrum Entertainment Complex Partner Mike Eaton Jr. said. “Obviously we understand the purpose of the shutdowns and we want everyone to be healthy, but it’s been tough.”

The Eatons have owned and operated the 65,000 square foot Spectrum Entertainment Complex in Wyoming for nearly 40 years. They recently invested $6 million into the facility to include a traditional 40-lane experience, a 12-lane boutique-style experience, four golf simulators a restaurant, bars and convention center. 

“Our family has worked very hard through a lot of trials and tribulations to not only keep the business afloat at times, but then to also do this big expansion project. You know, and the tough thing with that was we were just finishing that up then we had to deal with the shutdowns,” Eaton said. “We’re here, we’re alive and kicking it has not been easy but we’re still here and hopefully the governor will find it in her wisdom to let us open soon.”

It’s been months and the Eatons say simply having their restaurant open is not enough to sustain their business as a whole. 

“All things have a very intricate relationship. People come here for bowling, they see the place and they’re like maybe I want to have a party here. They come and eat in the restaurant, oh I want to go bowling, it all goes together,” Eaton said. “From a business standpoint, we kind of need everything firing in order to maintain it, to keep our head above water and hopefully we can get back to that soon.”

Shortly after the shutdown, Spectrum Entertainment Complex suffered damage from vandals, eight of their windows were shot out. Eaton says it wouldn’t have happened had the complex been open.

“To have to go look out our shot out windows at a Meijer full parking lot, a Menards full parking lot, a Target full parking lot, you know, you can only do that so many times before you start to really wonder what’s going on,” Eaton said. “Meanwhile, you can congregate by the thousands at a big box shopping store and again… happy for them, happy things are going well for them but it’s just very confusing on the outside looking in.”

Whitmer last issued the remaining closed businesses in an executive order in June. It stated indoor amusement, recreational or entertainment facilities, like bowling alleys and gyms are all closed until further notice. 

No matter what happens, Eaton says Michigan’s shutdown won’t stop Eaton from bowling, even if he has to leave the state.

“Personally, I drove to Ohio to bowl a tournament last weekend. I’m driving to Ohio to bowl a tournament this weekend and I’ll be driving to Indiana to bowl a tournament the following weekend,” Eaton said. “But we’re hanging on, you know, we’re here. We’ll be here so I just want to let the community know we plan on sticking around and getting through this with everybody and we certainly hope everyone is healthy and safe.”

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